Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pot bellies and Wusteetees

Here's a snippet from my work-life and one from my play-life:

Dear pot-bellied minister who doesn’t give a crap,

That’s how I want to start the report I’m writing this week. It’s for The Government, to update them on our work.

Every few months they come around to check on us. Last time, a car-full of pot-bellied men with sweat stains under their armpits shuffled into our conference room. The Big Man, a Minister of such-and-such, sat in the largest chair and read questions from a sheet he’d pulled from his leather briefcase. Our director answered while the other men quietly stuffed finger sandwiches into their mouths and asked for seconds on tea. Tuna and breadcrumbs stuck to the mustache of the man next to me. 45 minutes and three platefuls of sandwiches later, the Big Man cleared his throat. The suits stood up, shook our hands, and screeched off in their shiny black vehicle.

If reading the report I'm to write would result in free tuna sandwiches, someone might read it. But it won’t. The Big Man’s secretary will tuck it into a manila folder which she'll stuff into a crooked cabinet in the corner of her room. Dust will settle, its pages will turn yellow, and one day it will rot in a pile of stinking trash by the river.

This image in mind as I write the report, I take a lot of tea breaks. I clean the dirt from my nails; I watch the lady hanging laundry on the roof next to ours; I organize the paper clips and papers on my desk. I need to breath deep, wiggle my fingers over my keyboard, and Just Do It.


That’s the French word for a kid’s climbing harness, as pronounced by Isa the 3-year old. Here she is with her harness:

Isa is a new friend. As is Wendy, her mom. I met Wendy because we went to the same college. (Though 20 years apart.) Wendy wears scarves and boots for her UN job. On the weekends she wears sandals and dirt on her knees though, which is probably why we’re friends. We go climbing and sometimes eat meals together.

Isa says things like: “Guys, I’m not vewwy happy wid you” and “I need to go Ka-Ka…NOW!” When she feels like being a tiger, she crawls on her knees and roars. If allowed, she’d eat only potato chips and strawberries. She ignores questions like, What did you do at school today? and Where are you going tomorrow? But if asked Whats the name of that plastic cow over there? she’ll explain not only his name, but also his entire family history, what he wants for lunch and how he feels about the plastic horse next to him.

Isa helps me focus on what’s in front of my nose – things like plastic cows and potato chips and spring blossoms. Things I’d otherwise miss.

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